Barnardo’s puts LGBT equality and inclusion at the heart of everything it does. Over the past year, the UK’s largest children’s charity has won an award from Pink News and developed programmes to support bullied schoolchildren and refugees who have been fleeing persecution because of their identity.
Pink News Equality Award
In terms of LGBT equality, 2017 was a big year for Barnardo’s. The charity retained its Top 100 ranking in Stonewall’s Equality index for the third consecutive year and secured more than 400 sign-ups to its allies programme. It also launched a series of short films on LGBT equality, one of which has been shortlisted for a Charity Film Award.
A major highlight was winning the inaugural Third Sector Equality Award at the Pink News Awards at Westminster in October. The award celebrates the contributions of politicians, businesses, campaigners and community groups to improving LGBT+ life in the UK.
Barnardo’s triumphed against strong competition in the category from the National Theatre, Tate Galleries, St Mungo’s, Amnesty International and the National Union of Students.
The charity actively works to create a workforce that is inclusive of LGBT staff and volunteers and to both understand and respond to the needs of LGBTQ young people and to increase LGBTQ awareness.
Barnardo’s has led campaigning on LGBTQ fostering and adoption and has been helping children to thrive in loving, safe family environments for more than 20 years.
A wide range of services to support LGBTQ young people includes the Positive Identities service that supports young people struggling with sexual orientation and gender identities. Its anti-bullying training programme, funded by the Department for Education, challenges the attitudes and behaviour in schools, families, faith and wider communities towards LGBTQ people.
In addition, Safezone training has made Barnardo’s and its services welcoming places for LGBT people and has been rolled out to GP practices, health services, youth services and schools.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan, said: “Having a workforce that is inclusive of our LGBT staff and volunteers is essential if we are to fully understand and meet the needs of LGBTQ children and young people.
“Barnardo’s champions equality, diversity and inclusion and, not only helps young people to be themselves, but also raises wider awareness about LGBTQ issues so they can also be supported by their peers.
“The judges were impressed by how Barnardo’s puts equality and inclusion at the heart of everything it does – from the way it supports children and young people to who works or volunteers for the charity. Building a diverse Barnardo’s is a core part of its ten year corporate strategy.”
Geography: Mapping the World’
The theme of this year’s LGBT History Month is ‘Geography: Mapping the World’ and it is highly relevant to Barnardo’s work.
There are approximately 169,000 refugees and asylum seekers living in the UK and, according to Stonewall, the UK government estimates approximately 5-7% of the UK population identifies as LGBT.
From those figures, it is estimated there are a minimum of 12,000 refugees and asylum seekers living in the UK who identify as LGBT. Many of them may have fled their country of origin for fear of persecution as a direct result of their LGBT identity.
In many countries around the world, LGBT people are subjected to high levels of abuse, discrimination and violence. There are 72 countries where it is illegal to engage in same sex sexual activity. In Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen and parts of Somalia and Nigeria, homosexuality is punishable by death.
Barnardo’s front-line services work specifically with refugee and asylum-seeking children, young people and families. Other Barnardo’s services will encounter families with refugee and asylum-seeking status.
The charity recently created a training session for front-line staff that not only highlights the plight and challenges faced by refugees and asylum seekers, but specifically considers the issues faced by refugee and asylum seekers identifying as LGBT.
These individuals are often alone when they flee their country of origin, have potentially been rejected by their families and friends and suffer further isolation when they arrive in the UK due to the fear of engaging with members of their own community of origin where they might suffer further rejection, discrimination and prejudice.
The training has been developed to be rolled out to any Barnardo’s project that feels it could benefit from the information. The training, derived from research and data published by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and Stonewall, includes summaries of relevant legislation and policy, an overview of the asylum process, details of the challenges faced by refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, issues that LGBT refugees and asylum seekers face in the UK and the support services on offer.
Anti-homophobic bullying programme
An anti-homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying programme developed by Barnardo’s began delivering work to schools in Yorkshire & Humber in April 2017 and has now delivered provided sessions to 3,540 people.
The programme is funded by the Government Equalities Office and supported by the Department for Education. It has worked with 60 schools, delivering 177 sessions. By March 2019 the programme will have worked with more than 200 schools.
Recognising the diverse backgrounds of the LGBT community, Barnardo’s offers six different training courses, including ‘Safezone’, ‘Gender Identity & Trans’, ‘Identity, Faith & Culture’ and ‘Ambassadors’.
As well as the training courses, the charity offers policy reviews and guidance on how homophobic bullying should be recorded.
All schools receive training to raise awareness and knowledge among staff around LGBTQ identities and how these can be incorporated into a school environment to promote inclusivity and reduce bullying. Evaluation forms have shown that participants in this training are much better able to identify and respond to issues of discrimination.